Julie Freedman Smith & Gail Bell

Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching, podcasts, and video courses to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit www.parentingpower.ca to ask your own parenting questions.
5 Ways to Make the Most out of Book Time with Our Kids
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Wandering through the children’s section of a library or book store is like wandering blissfully down memory lane. Books take us back to times with a favourite teacher, a comfy couch with mom and dad, or the bedroom floor—lying on one’s tummy, rereading an old favourite. Life was simple. Books made everything better.

These days, there are so many other ways that kids might spend their time. Yet literacy remains critical to the development of many skills. In addition, book time creates an incredible opportunity for connection with our kids, developing strong relationships, memories, and inspiration for future discussions. Reading is the gift that keeps on giving.

On the other hand, almost every parent has felt their eyes rolling back in their head at the thought of reading that same book one more time! So, how do we get the most out of book time with our kids?

1. Let them ‘read the book’
With young children, choose books with pictures that tell a story and words that rhyme. Your kids can help you ‘read’ the book. Have them finish the sentence using the sounds of the rhyming words and the pictures as clues. They could even tell you a version of the story by going through the pictures. Although they aren’t actually reading the book, when kids have memorized parts of a book and can pretend to read it to you, they see themselves as readers and that encourages future reading.

2. Keep books with you in the car
It’s so easy to let your electronic device entertain the kids while waiting at the doctor’s office. However, if reading is important to your family, get really clear on how much screen time is right for your kids and then use available time for reading, puzzles and other games that allow hands-on problem-solving and creativity development. Reading a book builds a child’s imagination.

3. Visit the library
Feeling trapped in the house? Getting out to the library is a great escape. Kids can look through shelves and shelves of books and discover their own treasures. In addition, story times mean that you don’t have to do all the reading and that your child learns to sit and listen while in a group.

4. Do home-reading during the day and read to them at night
It’s best to do school reading homework during the day. Waiting until a child is sleepy can be really tricky for kids who aren’t confident readers. At bedtime, read books that are slightly beyond your child’s reading level. This exposes little ears to new vocabulary and engages their imagination. It leaves them dreaming of a wonderful story when they close their eyes to sleep.

5. Use the book to start your own story
If you have read the story one time too many, ask your kids a question about the characters or their actions: ‘Have you ever felt that way before?’ ‘What would you do if you saw a giant beanstalk growing up to the sky?’ These are great ways to connect with conversation and build a foundation for your growing relationship.

Comments | Tagged under books, reading
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How to Teach Kids to Find Their Own ‘Missing’ Belongings
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When we were kids, it was always amazing to know that Mom could find anything. Didn’t know where it was? Mom did. Didn’t know how to find it? Mom did. Even if you had already looked under your bed for something, Mom could look there two minutes later and find it.

Now that we are moms, we know it to be true. Moms can find anything!

However, it can feel so frustrating to be asked again and again to find something when our kids could do it themselves. Now, we can start teaching them to do exactly that.

When we were kids, it was always amazing to know that Mom could find anything. Didn’t know where it was? Mom did. Didn’t know how to find it? Mom did. Even if you had already looked under your bed for something, Mom could look there two minutes later and find it.

Now that we are moms, we know it to be true. Moms can find anything!

However, it can feel so frustrating to be asked again and again to find something when our kids could do it themselves. Now, we can start teaching them to do exactly that.

1. Learn what you are missing.
Take a week and start to notice what your kids are missing on a regular basis. Is it their home-reading or library books? Toques and mitts? What about their special shoes for dance or soccer?
Once you know what’s missing, you can move to the next step.

2. Create a place for the missing pieces.
Organization can help cut down on many parenting frustrations. It can be hard to know where to start so use the list you made in step one and create home base places for these things. When library books come into the house, they go in the library basket. Toques and mitts find a home at kid-level very close to the door. Textbooks live where the kids do their homework.

3. Use it and don’t lose it.
Build a plan with your kids to use the item near the place where it lives and then to put it back. If this isn’t a habit, you have the chance to build and teach that habit. Set the timer when the thing comes out of its place. When the timer rings, it is time to put it back before going on to the next activity.

4. Build an activity list/bag for each activity.
Work with your child to write a list of items needed for each activity. If they can print, get them to print it out. If they can’t read, take a picture of what goes in the bag. Keep this list close to the bag and have your child pack it up the night before the activity. Initially do it with the child, going through the list together. Then, have the child get it ready and check on it. Finally, it will become the child’s responsibility to pack the bag independently. The natural consequence of a poorly packed bag is that the child learns to get by without the item for that activity. Allow your child the chance to learn this lesson. It will only take one or two times and then responsibility will kick in.

If you are using the same shoes for a couple of activities, build a plan that rather than putting the shoes back into the bag, they go into the next place they are needed at the end of the activity.

As we work through these problems in a systematic way, we are

  • Teaching our kids how to problem-solve
  • Teaching our kids that they are capable of being involved in the solution
  • Teaching our kids the skills that they need for organization
  • Teaching our kids that they are capable and responsible
  • Teaching our kids that we don’t need to do everything for them

These are all part of our parenting job. We are also decreasing our work load in the long run. That will allow us time to find our own stuff…because we don’t have our moms here to find it for us.

Comments | Tagged under parenting, tips, motherhood
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